South Bay

School Start & End Dates: 2019-2020 Academic Year Calendars for LA County Schools

Summer vacation ain't what it used to be. The majority of SoCal school districts now opt for an August start date, with vanishingly few stragglers sticking with the old-school, post-Labor Day start. And beware assuming that school starts and finishes roughly when it did last year, because schedules seem to change all the time. 2020 is a leap year, and that extra day may impact the school calendar as well.

This year Alhambra is first out of the gate, leading the back-to-school race with a pool-party-pooper start date of August 9; but in a radical change of course, Torrance goes from last man standing to a late August start. Hermosa Beach is now the only district on our list with a September start date, with classes beginning on September 5. 

Wondering where your district fits in, and how much time you have left for these 50 Free Things To Do in Summer? Bookmark our list below with start and finish dates for the 2019-2020 school year all over LA County. And if what you read makes you wonder about what other school options are available to you, maybe our school guide can help.

Free Cinco de Mayo Celebrations that Are Great for Families

First let's set the record straight: Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. What the day actually celebrates is an underdog Mexican victory over a French military attack on Puebla, Mexico in 1862. The holiday is mostly observed in Puebla and in Southern California, where there's little mention of the French, but much swinging at piñatas and dancing to mariachis. After all, by the first weekend of May, who needs more excuse than that to revel in the sunshine? Many of the Cinco de Mayo events you'll see advertised are pub crawls, but we've hunted down celebrations the whole family can enjoy.

There are free Cinco de Mayo fests throughout LA and the OC, starting as early as a week before, so get in the spirit to dance, watch parades, and (of course) eat.

Water Feature: 16 Water Playgrounds and Parks with Splash Pads in LA

Remember those great summer afternoons running through a sprinkler with the neighborhood kids? Over in New England and Nebraska that’s probably still happening, but here in SoCal turning on the hose for entertainment is frowned upon these days. Instead, packs of puddle-loving Angeleno kids splash through hot days at parks with free and fabulous water features, like the ones below—many of which are open year-round. So if a pool or a water park sounds like too much work today, cool those kids down at a splash pad!

Best Summer Horse Riding Camps around Los Angeles and Orange County

It's hard to believe that only a few decades ago many LA kids could pat and even ride horses in their own neighborhoods. My friend who hails from Brentwood remembers feeding carrots to front yard horses just blocks from the now bustling and trendy San Vicente Blvd. Wouldn't that be nice? If you have a little rider-wanna-be but no riding ring next door, don't despair: there are many horseback riding summer camps with lessons for kids right around the corner.

Along with our recommendations for the LA area's best art camps, classic outdoor summer camps, and science camps, we offer our picks for LA and Orange County's best summer horse riding camps. Be sure to check our camp guide for more camp ideas!

Family-Friendly Beer Gardens: 9 Spots for LA Kids and Parents To Chill Together

After a long week of parenting, there’s nothing more rejuvenating to me than sitting outside in sunny California gorgeousness and tossing back a cold beer and pretzel while my toddler runs around like a maniac. If our recent review of family friendly wineries sounds great but too far, a kid-friendly brewery in town may be just the ticket. Here's a list of inviting places in the Los Angeles area to drink outside with the kiddos, ranging from super traditional German beer gardens to family-friendly brewpubs with outdoor spaces. 

40+ Easter Egg Hunts and Bunny Events for Kids in LA and Orange County

Some of us have lovely gardens and the inclination to creatively hide eggs in them early on a Sunday morning. Others have an inclination to sleep late and find eggs hidden in someone else's garden. We find no shame in that and are more than happy to help guide you to lots of places where Peter Cottontail has evidently just been moments before. Most of the egg hunts below take place Easter weekend; keep an eye on our Event Calendar for last-minute additions, and check out these other places to find the Easter Bunny for more photo ops!

15 Best Campgrounds for Tent Camping with Kids Near LA

Marshmallows. Check. Bug spray. Check. Air mattress. Check. Camping season is upon us. Hurrah! And thankfully in this multi-terrain region of ours, you don't need to go far to enjoy a night or two under the stars. A weekend without electronics, breathing fresh air, and enjoying meals over the campfire: all this can be yours without driving more than an hour or two—in some cases even less! Read on to find an easy destination for you and your happy campers. (And if the one you want is full this weekend, check out a few last minute camping spots.)

Easter Bunny Photo Ops and Events: Where To Find the Bunny in LA & OC

Hippity hoppity, hippity hoppity: your kids might not want to sit still, but at least the Easter Bunny will! There are plenty of spots to set up the perfect Easter photo in LA and Orange County in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. We've lined up a whole Bunny Trail to hop down, ranging from mall photo ops to trains and spring festivals. Have fun catching up to Peter Cottontail in one of the following Southland locations.

Celebrating Purim at Carnivals All Over Los Angeles

Not too sure what Purim is? Imagine something between Hebrew Halloween and Middle Eastern Mardi Gras, and you'll more or less have it. Jewish families know Purim as a time of uncharacteristically raucous rabbinical revelry, marked by costumes, noisemakers, interactive storytelling, triangular pastries, and enough drink (for the grown-ups) to muddy the lines between good and evil. Gentile families generally don't know it at all. But Purim is worth knowing. Its story has all the best elements: a party-hearty king, a beautiful and courageous queen, a resourceful good guy, and a bad guy so hateful that everyone drowns out his name with noisemakers at community carnivals all over town. Check out one of the events below for classic Purim activities, costume parades, and boisterous retellings of the Purim story.

And if you know of a celebration we've missed, please let us know!

Free in March: 25 Things To Do that Won't Cost a Thing

Spring may not have sprung quite yet, but it promises to at any moment. So get ready, because when the temps start to spike, there's loads of free fun to be had. Whether you’re looking for a lucky Leprechaun, or some Seussical silliness, Los Angeles has got it going on. With migrating whales and incoming swallows, you aren’t going to have any trouble keeping the family busy all month long; and if you want to do it all without spending a cent, we've got your back with the 25 free outings below!

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